NIT Round 2 Preview and Open Thread: Iowa Hawkeyes at Oregon Ducks

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 08: Devoe Joseph #34 of the Oregon Ducks starts a break against the Colorado Buffaloes during the quarterfinals of the Pac12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 8, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Iowa Hawkeyes (18-16) at Oregon Ducks (23-9)
2:00 PT :: Matthew Knight Arena
TV :: ESPNU/ESPN3
KenPom Rankings :: Oregon (54) :: Iowa (83)
KenPom Projection :: Oregon 81-74

(NOTE: You may also use this as your NCAA Tournament Day Four Open Thread)

Duke is cleaning out their lockers right now. Missouri is painting an SEC logo on their court. Colorado is planning a break-in of Lorenzo Romar's house to take some piece of hardware back to Boulder. What none of these teams are doing is playing basketball, while Oregon still is.

And this is by no means a meaningless game. Sure, the winner earns the right to move onto the NIT. But, more importantly, the winner earns the right to make a trip to Seattle and face off against the aforementioned award-winning tactician. But first, the Ducks must beat the Hawkeyes, someting that is much more difficult than their 18-16 record would indicate.

Iowa's record is marred by the fact that they played in the nation's toughest conference, the B1G. Iowa only has two bad losses (Campbell and Nebraska), while they have some really top notch wins. They've beaten Wisconsin twice, and have wins against Michigan and Indiana, so they clearly have the capability of beating Oregon. They haven't fared very well away from home (only three wins on the season), a fact that should bode well for the Ducks.

The game figures to be quite the shootout. Oregon quietly became elite offensively this season, ranking 22nd in the nation in offensive efficiency (113.0), while Iowa doesn't rank far behind (110.2, 40th). The Hawkeyes don't shoot it as well as the Ducks do, but they get to the line more and turn the ball over less.

These teams have remarkably similar statistical profiles. They are similar in defensive efficiency (Oregon 99.7, 140th, Iowa 100.8, 156th), and the tempo is nearly identical for both teams. The only reason Iowa's defensive numbers are in the same stratosphere as Oregon is because they cause many more turnovers than the Ducks, because they give up open shots all over the court. Opponents have a eFG% 51.3 against the Hawkeyes, a full hundred places worse than Oregon's mark. This is almost entire due to their size deficiency, as they actually defend the three somewhat competently, but get manhandled in the post. Olu Ashaolu and Tony Woods should be able to take advantage of some matchups on the block.

The offense is led by Matt Gatens, a 15.4 ppg scorer who scores about half his point from behind the arc. They run a trio of posts in the 6'7"-6'8" range who all average between 7-11 ppg in Aaron White, Melshan Basabe, and Zach McCabe. White is the best of the bunch, but they are soft defensively and on the boards for post players, though the same could be said for Oregon (both teams are tied for 181st in the nation in rebounding). Roy Marble is the other significant contributor, who is very efficent in the a point forward type role.

These teams have remarkly similar statistical profiles. Oregon's is slightly better, and they have the game at home. But Iowa is right there, and Oregon will have to play a good game to move on. If they can come out and play the way they did against LSU, they should be in great shape.

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